Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Camping and Drumming

Recently I spent a few days camping. I spent one night at Eastnor Deer Park campsite near Ledbury in Herefordshire and then three nights at the Resurgence Readers Camp held at Green and Away, a tented and 'green' conference centre near Worcester. With four days at my disposal I wanted to make sure that I used them wisely. The Resurgence camp was a great opportunity to meet a diverse group of people but, as I had found last year to be so emotionally challenging and inspiring, I decided not to attend any of the talks or activities this year. I talked lots, did quite a bit of washing up and enjoyed just sitting around chatting to people. It was great to spend time with people who shared many of my interests and ideas and I appreciated not feeling quite so isolated.

There were some things that were inspiring to me about my time way and I will just recount them here. I don't want this to be a diary as such so I'm just going to write what comes into my mind and not focus on times, places or people as such.

I had pitched my tent in Eastnor Deer Park on the south-western edge of the Malvern Hills and walked up to the monument on the hill above the campsite. During my tea I had been watched by two doe Roe Deer and five stags then appeared out of the woods to watch me as I left the tent and began to walk up the hill. It was about 9pm and the light was just beginning to fade. The rain laden clouds were giving way to a much clearer sky and there was quite a cool breeze. I took my drum with me and enjoyed a decent time drumming in the approaching darkness. With the air being cold and damp, my drum was distinctly sounding flat but it was wonderful to play it and listen to how it sounded with the breeze in the trees. This was the first night of my holiday and I felt a great release of freedom from the isolation and restriction I had felt at work. I had driven three hours to get to this place and now I was at home in the landscape, the wind and the rain. There was one moment of looking up when I was thinking about light and immediately seeing the only star in a patch of sky that was very moving.

I took my drum on a gloriously warm and sunny morning up onto Midsummer Hill on the southern end of the Malvern Hills. Walking up to the hilltop just after 6am was a wonderful experience and the views were superb - so clear under a cloudless sky. There was a strong breeze, but in the lee of the hilltop and the concrete seat, I enjoyed a great time of drumming. Weaving seemed to be the theme - weaving the sound of the drum through the landscape. I find that small chants can come naturally to me in places like this. I can't always remember them as they come and go with the flow of my drumming and whatever I am thinking or praying about. It is a very "in the moment" sort of experience.

The River Teme runs beside the Green and Away camp and I took my drum down the river bank one morning after breakfast. It was warmish, mostly sunny and no-one else was about. The river was significantly higher than last year and the water a muddy brown with silt from recent rains. The Indian Balsam was in full flower and long-tailed tits fluttered around seemingly unperturbed in the willow trees just beside me as I drummed. I then sat down and spent an hour or so drawing my experience, by which time other campers were out walking and enjoying the river too.

I spent an hour by myself in the yurt 'sitting room' drumming. This is almost one of my most favourite places in which to be. Quite, surrounded by soft cushions, warm in the summer sunshine and very welcoming.

I had a good walk up onto Croft Ambrey and then a few hours drawing in the walled garden at Croft Castle. Between the many rain showers there was lovely sunshine, but it was so intermittently wet that I didn't get as much drawing done as I would have liked.

Driving from Leominster with my mother to our old farm. It was a beautifully warm, clear and sunny evening and the countryside around Tenbury Wells and towards Hanley Child looked stunning.

I'm not used to talking so much and so when faced with so many interesting people who all share many of my different interests it was fun but quite tiring to practice quality communication. I did appreciate that some people sought me out from time to time as I felt I was always giving, always being the one to initiate conversation - and I was trying very hard to be pleasent, chatty, respectful and friendly to all whom I met.

Visting the Knapp and Papermill Nature Reserve. This has to now be one of my favourite places on the planet! I went there twice this year having fallen in love with it last year. The river, the old apple orchard, the woodland, the meadows.... sigh!

Finding time to do some drawing that wasn't rushed was wonderful. I did a couple of pictures at the Resurgence camp that I put up in the yurt and those that saw them and realised I had done them were quite appreciative of them. I felt I had contributed something in a quiet, sort of unseen way to the camp. If i go again next year I might draw upon this and do something a bit more.

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